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The GMB union skewers Amazon working conditions at Christmas

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GMB Union Amazon peak game The GMB Union has made an online game satirizing Amazon working conditions. GMB

  • A British union has highlighted working conditions at Amazon warehouses over Christmas with a satirical whack-a-mole-style game.
  • The game was created by the GMB union, one of the biggest workers’ unions in the UK.
  • The game makes the player furiously click on packages while showing pop-up messages which refer to damning media and GMB reports about Amazon’s working practices.
  • Amazon responded that if people want to find out what it’s like to work in its warehouses they are welcome to take a tour, rather than play a “fictitious computer game.”

British workers’ union the GMB has laid into Amazon’s working practices at Christmas with a satirical online game resembling “whack-a-mole.”

The game asks players to click on packages as they pop up, which gradually become impossibly fast to keep up with. You can play “Workers not Robots” yourself by clicking here.

Occasionally messages flash up such as “Time for a toilet break — actually… here’s a bottle, no time for proper breaks here.” This is a reference to a report from an undercover UK journalist James Bloodworth who claims he found a bottle of urine while working inside an Amazon warehouse. Amazon has disputed Bloodworth’s reporting as false.

Read more: Amazon warehouse workers were fired via text last Christmas, anonymous staffer claims

The game takes particular aim at CEO and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos. At one point a caricatured image of him pops up demanding that the player “pick faster!”

Finally the player is informed that they have been carted off in an ambulance. This is a reference to a report published by the GMB in May, after an FOI request to ambulance services in the UK revealed that over the past three years 600 ambulances were called out to 14 Amazon warehouses.

The GMB compared emergency callouts between a single Amazon warehouse in Rugeley, near Birmingham, with a similarly sized and staffed supermarket distribution center nearby. There were 115 ambulance callouts to the Amazon warehouse, compared to eight for the supermarket. 

As a coda the game asks the player to “show Bezos” by sharing the website with friends and, if they purchase anything from Amazon, to leave  product reviews asking Bezos to recognise the GMB.

The union has been a frequent critic of Amazon’s working conditions. It has organised multiple protests of Amazon warehouses, including protests that coincided with warehouse worker strikes across Europe on Black Friday.

In response to the game, an Amazon spokeswoman said:

“We love an app as much as the next lot — but the only robots in our buildings are the ones helping our well paid, highly appreciated associates deliver for customers. If you want to see what it is really like to work inside our fulfilment centres you don’t need to download a fictitious computer game — come take a tour.”

Do you work at Amazon? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at ihamilton@businessinsider.com. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

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Canadian tech diversity and inclusion in the spotlight

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Diversity and inclusion are hot-button issues, but for all the attention they get, there’s still work to be done in the tech sector, according to a recent Gartner blog.

Citing a range of challenges that include pay inequity, lack of diversity in corporate management, and difficulty recruiting diverse talent, the blog suggests three possible remedies for organizations trying to become more diverse and inclusive: having a long-term plan but focusing on one aspect that will make the most benefit, setting targets and making leadership accountable, and committing resources.

The call for such strategies finds support in a report from the Brookfield Institute revealing that Canada’s technology sector has a disappointing track record when it comes to inclusion and equity, with women “four times less likely to be employed in the sector than men, and earning on average $7,300 less than men in technology jobs.”

The findings are just as grim in a January 2020 report funded by Canada’s Future Skills Centre. According to this document, despite corporate commitments to diversity, “decades of initiatives designed to advance women in technology have scarcely had an effect: The proportion of women in engineering and computer science in Canada has changed little in 25 years.”

And women are not the only disadvantaged group, says the report. “The under-employment of skilled immigrants and under-representation of women and other groups in the ICT industry suggests that recruitment and retention policies and practices of the very firms complaining about this [skills] gap may be contributing to the problem.”

Until we do a better job of addressing inclusion and diversity, career opportunities will continue to be limited for women, internationally educated professionals, racialized minorities, First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. In addition to being a very human issue, this is also one that perpetuates the ICT skills gap by failing to tap into a supply of well-qualified labour.

On the bright side, there are technology companies and organizations across Canada that are truly determined to create opportunities for those who are under-represented in the digital talent pool. There is also an opportunity to recognize their efforts during Channel Innovation 2021: Adapting to the New Customer Experience, a 2.5-hour, virtual event on April 28, 2021.

A showcase for independent software vendors (ISVs) and Canadian channel innovators, the Channel Innovation 2021 celebration will take place on CIA-TV, a unique ITWC platform that allows the audience to take in the show, download related content and videos, and network in live breakout rooms. There are six award categories, including the C4 Award for Diversity and Inclusion. Nominating is simple. Whether a self- or third-party nomination, there are only two main questions to answer and an opportunity to include a supporting document or image.

Winning entries will be announced during the celebration and profiled in the Channel Daily News Magazine and in Direction Informatique, ITWC’s French-language publication devoted to the Quebec marketplace. They will also receive a digital badge for use on their websites and on social media to help gain industry-wide recognition and end-user exposure.

The media attention and recognition are reason enough to vie for this honour, and we always need things to celebrate during a global pandemic, but the real value in awards for diversity and inclusion is in setting an example for others to follow. The news is full of the ways we are falling down when it comes to equity in the IT sector. Let’s take some time to highlight the success stories and encourage other tech innovators to step up.

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Leading Canadian tech entrepreneur Saadia Muzaffar to give virtual keynote in Peterborough on March 9

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In celebration of International Women’s Day, one of Canada’s leading female tech entrepreneurs will be giving a virtual keynote for residents of Peterborough and the Kawarthas on Tuesday, March 9th at 7 p.m.

The Innovation Cluster is hosting Saadia Muzaffar as part of its ‘Electric City Talks’ series.

Muzaffar is a tech entrepreneur, author, and passionate advocate of responsible innovation, decent work for everyone, and prosperity of immigrant talent in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She is the founder of TechGirls Canada, a hub for Canadian women in STEM, and co-founder of Tech Reset Canada, a group of business people, technologists, and other residents advocating for innovation that is focused on the public good.

In 2017, Muzaffar was featured in Canada 150 Women, a book about 150 of the most influential and groundbreaking women in Canada. Her work has been featured in CNNMoney, BBC World, Fortune Magazine, The Globe and Mail, VICE, CBC, TVO, and Chatelaine.

Muzaffar’s March 9th talk, entitled ‘Redefining Term Sheets: Success, Solidarity, & The Future We Want’, will inspire women to achieve success in all areas of life, including in business by providing strategies for obtaining funding.

“It is impossible to explain how women only get 2.2 per cent of funding for their ventures while we constitute a majority of the population, without acknowledging long-standing structural and systemic bias,” Muzaffar says, describing her talk. “Women know these odds in our bones because we feel them in too many boardrooms, banks, media advertisements, and venture competitions — yet women are the fastest-growing demographic in new businesses.”

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ARK’s Cathie Wood joins board of Canadian tech firm mimik

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ARK Invest’s Cathie Wood is joining the board of Canadian technology company mimik.

Vancouver-based mimik is an edge computing company that effectively turns devices like phones into private cloud servers. It has already teamed up with Amazon Web Services and IBM on edge computing – two of the bigger players in the space.

The AWS partnership gives software developers access to mimik’s cloud platform. Together, edge devices including smart phones, tablets, and Internet of Things (IoT) products can act as extensions of the AWS cloud. With the IBM partnership, mimik’s technology will be included in automation and digital transformation across manufacturing, retail, IoT and healthcare.

All of mimik’s business lines fit in with Wood’s broad ‘next generation internet’ thesis, one of her big five investment themes. The company itself is private and Wood is not an investor. 

However, as Citywire noted in January, Wood has hinted in interviews that ARK is exploring the launch of a private markets strategy. 

Wood joins a relatively high profile board at mimik. Other members include  Allen Salmasi, a pioneer in mobile technology who was previously with Qualcomm, and Ori Sasson, managing director of Primera Capital, who was an investor in VMWare and other technology companies.

‘I’ve always believed in backing founders who are at the forefront of innovation,’ Wood said in a statement on her decision to join mimik. ‘At mimik, [they] have built a foundation for the next generation of cloud computing.’ 

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